Retailers Test Alternatives to Single-Use Plastic Bags

CVS Health, Target and Walmart are part of a consortium looking to reinvent the retail sack. 

August 04, 2021

Sustainable Beyond the Bag Test

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, managed by Closed Loop Partners, has begun testing sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags, according to a press release. Founding members CVS Health, Target and Walmart will conduct the pilots at nine locations in Northern California.

Last year, the consortium launched a Beyond the Bag innovation challenge, and the winners—99Bridges, ChicoBag, GOATOTE and Fill it Forward—will be tested through early fall. “We're excited to pilot these new sustainable design solutions that can replace the single-use plastic retail bag,” said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy, and chief sustainability officer at CVS Health.

“We envision a retail industry where alternatives to the single-use plastic bag are easy and accessible for all communities,” added Amanda Nusz, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at Target and president of the Target Foundation.

Alongside in-store tests, Returnity and Eon—other Beyond the Bag Challenge winners—will have their bags tested via Walmart delivery in some markets. “At Walmart, we believe climate change requires bold collective action. Minimizing plastic waste, in particular, depends on collaboration and cooperation across the retail industry,” said Jane Ewing, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. “These pilots represent a unique and exciting industry-wide commitment towards a more sustainable future, and we are excited to work with the Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag and to be a catalyst for meaningful change.”

The tests come at a time when limiting plastic is on the minds of retailers and legislators alike. In November, New Jersey banned plastic bags, plastic straws, paper bags and polystyrene food containers effective May 2022. In May, the Attleboro, Mass., City Council approved a ban on plastic and polystyrene foam cups and containers from restaurants, convenience stores and other retailers selling prepared food and drinks. Convenience stores are also tackling single-use plastic. 7-Eleven Taiwan has vowed to get rid of single-use plastic bags by 2050.

Read more in “Creating a Sustainability Game Plan” and “Sustainable—and Safe” in NACS Magazine.